We live in a culture in which we are taught to avoid suffering at all costs. After all, avoiding it does seem to make perfect sense. However, the problem is that God, Who oftentimes delights in making little or no sense, sees suffering as one of His tools. It’s a tool He uses to grow the sufferer in terms of maturity and spirituality. As one writer has written, “God often digs the wells of joy with the spade of sorrow.” Another one has written, “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor; uninterrupted prosperity and crowning success never qualifies a man for usefulness and genuine happiness.”
Coming at this issue another way, we know that God certainly used the sufferings of Jesus. No, Jesus didn’t need to become more mature or grow spiritually, but God used Christ’s sufferings in an even greater way: to provide a payment for the world’s sin debt. Hebrews 9:26 says that Jesus “has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” And in Luke 24:25 Jesus says of His death, burial, and resurrection, “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”
My goal with this post is to remind us that suffering, as unpleasant as it is, is not without its benefits. As a matter of fact, the Bible actually sings the praises of suffering for the sake or cause of Christ. Acts 5:41 says of the apostles who had just been beaten:
So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
Along the same lines, Philippians 1:29 says:
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.
Of course, such passages exclusively apply to the Christian. But if you are a Christian there is one other passage that I’d like to share with you. It’s Romans 8:18:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
That is the verse that I will leave with you today, Christian. So if any bouts of suffering do come your way, please try to keep them in proper perspective. Remember that they are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will one day be revealed in you. This is the great promise that allowed the apostles to rejoice that they got to suffer for Christ’s name, and it’s the same promise that should motivate us today.